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8 Types of BBQ Smokers – Pictures, Pros & Cons of Each

man grilling barbecue in bbq smoker

Most people enjoy spending time outside with friends and family, making memories that will last a lifetime. One common way to spend quality time with the people you love is around a barbeque, surrounded by nature and serenity. Since there are many BBQ smokers to choose from, many people need help understanding which smoker is ideal for their household.

We’ve created a list of the most popular BBQ smoker types for all BBQ enthusiasts. After reading this list, you will hopefully find the perfect smoker for your unique needs.

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The 8 Types of BBQ Smokers

1. Gas Smokers

vertical gas bbq smoker
Photo Credit By: tab62, Shutterstock

Gas smokers are BBQ smokers that use natural gas or propane to create heat. They are built with a bottom section where the burner and the vents are, and the upper part, with the dampers and the chimney. The gas is transferred from the gas bottle to the cooking section. Since gas smokers don’t use charcoal or wood to create fire, they don’t make any smoke. The lack of smoke is one of the few disadvantages of gas smokers because the users prefer a smoky flavor of their grilled meat. Of course, you can always add wood chips during smoking to get that smoky flavor.

With gas smokers, you can easily control the heat produced and quickly tailor it to your specific needs.

  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • You can control heat levels easily and quickly
  • Cheaper than most smokers
  • There is no characteristic smoky flavor to the meat
  • You should have one extra propane bottle just in case

2. Electric Smokers

Electric Smokers or electric smokehouse
Photo Credit By: Karel Bock, Shutterstock

Electric smokers are gaining more popularity and use an electrically powered heating element. Similar to gas smokers, electric smokers are easier to operate than traditional types such as charcoal smokers. Some models of electric smokers even have a Bluetooth option which allows the user to operate the smoker through their phone.

One drawback of electric smokers is the lack of the famous smoky flavor that users adore. For an improved flavor, many users choose to add wood chips to the electric smoker.

  • Easier to use than standard charcoal smokers
  • Heat is easy to control
  • Some come with Bluetooth controls
  • Cannot be used without electricity

3. Vertical Smokers

Vertical smokers are those smokers that have a heat source directly beneath the cooking chamber. This unique build improves the speed of cooking, which is very useful for food with prolonged cooking time. Vertical smokers typically use wood or charcoal to produce heat, although some models use gas or electricity.

These smokers have a water source above the heating, which regulates the temperatures inside the cooking chamber and keeps the meat moist, and prevents drying out during cooking.

  • A lot of space for cooking
  • Their design takes up less space
  • Fast cooking time
  • Needs more time to heat up than traditional smokers
  • Tend to be heavier than other smokers

4. Pellet Smokers

pellet smoker bbq grill
Image Credit: Z Grills Australia, Unsplash

A pellet smoker works similarly to a charcoal smoker but uses small wooden pellets instead. There is a pellet hopper attached to the side of the grill, and the pellets are loaded into the hopper. Pellet smokers work with a built-in thermostat which controls the temperatures inside the cooking chamber, making it much easier to monitor the heat.

There are some opinions that pellets may be a healthier alternative to charcoal, and although they tend to be quite expensive at first, they pay off in the long run.

  • It may be a healthier alternative to charcoal
  • Easy to control the heat inside the cooking chamber
  • Versatile and suitable for smoking, cooking, and grilling
  • Easier to clean than charcoal smokers
  • The initial investment is a bit more expensive
  • It may be harder to acquire wood pellets than charcoal

5. Bullet Smokers

Bullet smokers work pretty similarly to vertical smokers, except they come with a more compact design and are smaller and sleeker. These units are perfect for beginners because they are small and easier to use than standard smokers. Bullet smokers have the unique and distinctive shape of a bullet, and they have no mechanical or electrical components.

Since these smokers are generally smaller than regular smokers, they are perfect for smaller family gatherings. They are typically made to use wood chunks and charcoal as heat sources.

  • They are small, compact, and don’t take up much space
  • Portable and easy to disassemble and assemble
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Not convenient for large amounts of food
  • Unsuitable for grilling, only for smoking

6. Offset Smokers

offset barbeque smoker grill
Image Credit: Luis Quintero, Pexels

Offset smokers have a firebox attached to the side of the smoker instead of on the bottom. The position of the firebox is ideal for equal heat distribution in the cooking chamber. These smokers move the fire a bit further from the meat, making it much easier to control the temperature without the risk of burning the meat.

The flavor of meat prepared with offset smokers maintains a traditional value because these smokers use charcoal and wood chips as heat sources.

  • Excellent heat distribution
  • Easy to control the temperature
  • It has a large cooking chamber
  • They tend to be bulky and large

7. Kamado Smokers

kamado egg type barbeque grill smoker
Image Credit: Audrius Venclova, Shutterstock

Kamado smokers are versatile and can be used for smoking, grilling, and roasting. Kamado smokers also work by using charcoal and are usually shaped like an acorn. Kamado smokers are unique because they are made from thick ceramic instead of regular steel, which makes the smoker retain heat much better.

Since kamado smokers are made from ceramic, they tend to be quite heavy and bulky. If you are looking for portable smokers that are small and easy to move from one place to another, kamado smokers may not be the ideal choice.

  • Versatile
  • Retain heat better than steel smokers
  • They tend to be heavy and bulky

8. Charcoal Smokers

barrel charcoal bbq grill smoker
Image Credit: AVN Photo Lab, Shutterstock

The most widespread smokers on the market are charcoal smokers. They come in a wide range of sizes and shapes. The traditional charcoal smoker is the best for maintaining the well-known smoky flavor of the meat. Most charcoal smokers have the firebox directly underneath the cooking grill, so the meat has a unique smoky flavor.

One downside to charcoal smokers is that the heat is much harder to control and must be monitored carefully for the meat not to burn.

  • They are best for retaining the famous smoky flavor
  • They come in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • One of the most popular smokers
  • The fire needs to be monitored carefully
  • It takes some time to prepare the charcoal before adding the meat

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After learning about the available BBQ smokers, choosing one that suits you may seem like a difficult choice. Nevertheless, each smoker is equipped with different unique features that can help you make your decision. It is important to know the different types so you know exactly what benefits each smoker can provide you with.

Featured Image Credit: Jaden Hatch, Unsplash


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